How I write 10,000 words in a day
This is not a daily occurrence; 10,000 words in a day is a writing marathon that takes planning. It’s also not high-quality writing, but it is a good way to forge through the boring filler scenes I’ve been putting off and it gives me a lot of material on the page that I can later edit into something usable.
I choose a day at least a couple of days, if not weeks, in the future that I can fully dedicate to writing. I plan ahead, make sure I clear my schedule, sort out snacks and meals for the day, and (if working at home) take care of the house work. This way, I have nothing else to think about or get distracted by.
I keep a note book of things I want to write about, typically just a bullet-pointed list of scenes that I have thought about. I am more of a freestyler than a planner, so that’s about as planned ahead as I ever get. I have a playlist ready to listen to, which I may or may not use.
On the day, I get up early and head to the gym, go for walk, anything that gets me active and away from my work space for at least an hour (I have tried it without the exercise and found that the day’s word count is always lower if I skip it). I have breakfast (a meal I often don’t really bother with). Shower. Clean clothes. Brushed teeth. All of these things, so I am awake and fresh.
The actual writing
I open a new document (which I save as “10K Day [date]”) and just start typing. Sometimes this means fragments of conversations I thought about while on the treadmill, sometimes it’s working on something from the notebook. Whatever I’m writing, the trick is to write it, no editing, no hesitations, no back spacing, not even for typos. I get myself into a groove and just keep going.
If I find myself a bit stuck, if my fingers haven’t hit the keys in the last thirty seconds, I hit the Enter key three times and start writing something else. 99% of the time, this something else will be a different scene within the same story, but every now and then I’ll jump to a different story entirely. If I can’t think of the word I want or need to name a new character, I will just type XXX and keep going.
I have my notebook next to me, so I can just work my way down my ‘to write’ list if I am having trouble thinking of what to write. Often, I start with the notebook but by the end of the day won’t be referring to it as much, mostly writing things I haven’t thought about before. This is when a lot of character development happens, unplanned quirks and descriptions slip in, and the next thing I know this character is gay and that one’s a red head (later, I go back and make sure these elements are consistent throughout the story).
I work in two-hour blocks, with twenty-minute breaks in between and one hour for lunch. Usually, I hit a wall at about 8,000 words around 4pm. When this happens I stop for an hour or two. Maybe go for another walk, maybe take a nap. I get back to it after dinner and pass the 10,000-word mark around 8:00pm. This is just me, I have friends who also do this and write much faster than I do, getting their 10,000 in half the time, and others who almost never actually hit the target. It doesn’t actually matter if they don’t though, they have still spent a day on their writing and made real progress.
My favourite way of doing a 10,000-word day is making it a social event. My old writing group used to reserve a private room in the library and bring our laptops. We followed the same schedule of twenty-minute breaks every two hours, and wouldn’t interact during writing time, except maybe silently passing around chocolate. Then, during the breaks, we would tell each other what we were writing about.
We first started doing this by taking part in a monthly 10K Day run by a writing blog, where you could log on and post updates through the day, and encourage each other. It was great, and I would love to post a link to the site, but it’s been a long time since I visited the website, and when I went looking for it today I couldn’t find it :(
Post-10,000 word day
A day or two after I have done a 10,000-word day, I edit what I wrote. Or if not edit, at least see what I can use. I sit down and scroll through, reading what I spewed onto the page, often feeling like it’s the first time I have seen those words.
I may not be able to use everything I wrote right away. E.g a piece of dialogue is from this WIP, but I don’t know when it happens so don’t have anywhere to put it in the story right now. These fragments stay untouched.
Anything I can use right away, I copy and paste into a WIP. I don’t delete anything I write, so anything I use I change the colour of in the 10K document so I end up with a rainbow of used text. This lets me see what has and hasn’t been used with minimal effort when I come back to the 10K document later on.
Inside my Writing Folder, I have a Used folder. Once everything in a 10K Day document has been used, I move the document to the Used folder. Until then, it sits in the main folder, ready for me to open it up and scroll through. It can stay there for a long time, especially if it has pieces from more than one story in it. Having it there means that when I have time to write but find myself unsure what I want to say I have a stock pile of pieces to use as a jumping off point.